Kingdom Hospitality in the Workplace: What It Might Mean for You

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.”

Luke 14:12

Yesterday, I began reflecting on Luke 14:12-13. In this passage, Jesus translates the countercultural values of the kingdom of God into a striking call to unusual hospitality: “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet...don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.”

Today, I want to consider how we might live out Jesus’ —exhortation not to mention his kingdom vision—in our workplaces. Because every workplace is different, what I share will be illustrative only. But I hope to get you thinking and praying about how you might reflect the kingdom of God in your relationships at work.

Many of our workplaces are quite stratified. People of higher status tend not to mingle with those of lower status, apart from offering a stiff “Good Morning” or giving orders. Consider the following example: Some years ago, I met a man who had been an executive in a major corporation. Through his work life, he became good friends with a custodian in the company. One day, the executive invited his friend to dine with him in the executive dining room, where he was free to bring personal guests. Soon after that lunch, however, the executive’s boss called him into his office, rebuked him for bringing a person of lower status into the dining room, and instructed him never to do that again. When the executive resisted, he was told that he had no future with the company. Indeed, he didn’t. Before long he was demoted. Eventually, he found employment elsewhere.

You may not be working in an organization with such rigid stratification as this. But even in flexible companies, human nature leads us to seek relationship with those who share our status. In my case, I work for Foundations for Laity Renewal, the parent organization of Laity Lodge. My boss actually encourages me to get to know colleagues who are lower on the organizational chart than I am. Yet, I find myself falling into comfortable patterns, in which I hang out with people like me. The exhortation of Jesus in Luke 14:12-13, reinforced by the urging of my boss, challenges me to stretch beyond my comfort zone and show hospitality to those who, from an institutional point of view, cannot reciprocate.

Jesus calls us to a new way of relating to each other in every facet of life. We are to live as citizens of the kingdom no matter where we are, including our workplace.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you think about your behavior in the workplace, how does the instruction of Jesus speak to you? What helps you to be hospitable to those who are of lower status than you? What keeps you from opening your heart to people who cannot reciprocate? How might you live out Luke 14:12-13 today?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, it is so easy for us to limit your kingdom to our private lives: home, church, friendships. But, in fact, you reign over all things. In time, every square inch of this world will be subsumed under your kingdom. For now, you have called your people to live as citizens of the kingdom of God in every part of life. Forgive me, Lord, when I fail to do this.

Give me eyes to see how I can reflect your kingdom values in my work. I am indeed blessed to work in an organization that acknowledges you. Yet, I find that my own culturally shaped inclinations keep me from living fully as a citizen of the kingdom. Help me, Lord, to learn to open my life to all with whom I work, no matter their position in the organization. In particular, may I be hospitable to those who do not have the same institutional status that I do. Amen.

P.S. from Mark: If you’d like a deeper understanding of the kingdom of God, let me refer you to my blog series: What Was the Message of Jesus?